Before my daughter was born I picked up a $1 copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Baby Sign Language from our local Goodwill. I wasn’t sure if we were actually going to teach her sign language, but I had heard positive anecdotes about it and how it might be important for her development. I brought it home, gave it a quick once-over, and put it on the shelf.
Once she was born, it took me a few weeks to get back to the book. I was nervous about starting. I felt overwhelmed with simply being a parent – how could I fathom adding learning a brand new skill for both me and her to our already full plates?
Something made me pick it up again and give it a shot and I am incredibly grateful that I did. Through this book, and a few others, I have been able to learn signs myself and teach them to her (and my husband), and thus watch her learn and be able to communicate long before she can say the words. It was a source of happiness for us to see her grasp new concepts and also for her to be able to communicate her needs to us and be understood.
In The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Baby Sign Language, it instructs “more” to be used as the first sign to learn. I’ve read this in other books too – that this is the foundation for the signs that follow. We started signing with our daughter at 6 months and while she didn’t really pick it up for a few months (as is natural), once she did it opened her world to so many things. She doesn’t only ask for “more” food but for “more” games, stories, songs, etc. “Diaper change” is also one we started early on, and while she’s been copying the sign for a while now, just recently she has been using it at the correct time (and even using the sign for “poop” to give us a heads up!). She now can use and understand more than 50 signs.
I highly recommend teaching your baby/toddler sign language if you haven’t started already. Here are three books that I use extensively and find very easy to understand.
This book is perfect for someone new to sign language – like me. It gave me enough background to satisfy my desire for the history of the language and why it’s important, but got into the signs quick enough to hold my attention. It includes over 100 signs.
This was another thrift store grab and it is fantastic. It jumps even quicker into the signs, plus has close to 150 signs – most of which I haven’t seen in other books. In addition, there are tutorials on hand shapes which gives you a more in-depth lesson on how to sign. And, really, it’s worth it just for the line art of the male model. He has a mustache that would make Ron Swanson proud.
I borrowed this book along with a few others from the library and this was the only one I found to be useful for me. The 200 signs are broken down into ages/stages (though it’s not a hard and fast rule to stay within those stages), and are easy to understand. I liked it so much I asked for this for Christmas.